Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal
By Phil O'Keefe |
Your bass sound, wherever you go
Let's face it - while bass rigs have become lighter and more powerful over the years, it can still be a hassle to take a large, full-featured amp to a gig. And sometimes, you really don't need to - a simple direct box can be used to feed the bass into the PA or recording console, and the soundperson or engineer can then take care of any necessary EQ and compression, and supply you with a cue / monitoring mix over the studio speakers, or in your on-stage floor wedge or IEMs. But do you really want to entrust your bass tone entirely to the soundperson? Sure, it might not be too bad if it's someone you know and trust and who knows how to dial up a bass sound that you like, but far too often you'll be working with different people at every gig, and they'll often be unfamiliar with your music and they may do little more than turn up the faders in a general approximation of a mix and call it good. No, even when you want to keep things as light and portable as possible, ideally, you're going to want to be able to craft your own bass tone so it remains consistent and solid… and that's what the Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal is all about.
What You Need To Know
- The Trace Elliot Transit B combines several functions into a single, relatively compact (12.3" W x 4.5" D x 2.3" H) pedal that can easily be taken anywhere you go, and used in a variety of situations to provide you with all the elements you need to craft a professional bass tone.
- Not only is it relatively compact, it also weighs a lot less than your amp, tipping the scale at a mere 2.6 pounds for the pedal itself, and 3.2 pounds total with the power supply and included gig bag.
- The pedal's case is heavy-duty; it's primarily made out of metal, while the two-level top surface appears to be made of tough phenolic resin. There are shallow cooling fins built into the metal case on the front and two sides.
- Five non-latching type footswitches line the length of the preamp pedal. Each is surrounded by a colored ring that lights up when that particular switch is selected and the section of the pedal that it controls is active, with multiple LED colors used, which makes it super-easy to see what is turned on and what isn't - even on the darkest of stages.
- In addition, the control knobs also have a (usually) green light ring around them, and the corresponding control knobs for each section light up when that section is turned on via the appropriate footswitch. Although all of the knobs have the same color, the combination of the footswitch and knob lights makes for a very user-friendly and easily understood interface.
- From right to left, the footswitches are labeled Pre-Shape, Drive, Equalization, Compression and Mute/Tune.
- An input Gain control sets your overall volume level going into the pedal. This is always active, except when you're using the onboard tuner. The LED ring around this knob will turn from green to red if the input levels are too hot and the preamp starts to clip. Trace Elliot recommends setting this control as high as possible, short of clipping. This should optimize the pedal's signal to noise ratio and give the best sound quality possible.
- A small pushbutton switch above the first footswitch on the right side of the pedal lets you optimize the Transit B for use with active and passive pickups. I tried it with basses equipped with both passive and active electronics and as long as you select the right type, it happily works with both. When the switch is in the Active (depressed) position, a red LED next to it illuminates to let you know.
- The Pre-Shape footswitch on the right side of the pedal activates the classic preset Trace Elliot EQ contouring that will be familiar to owners of Trace Elliot amplifiers. This boosts the low frequencies at around 55 Hz and the highs at around 2 kHz and 5 kHz while cutting the midrange at around 400 Hz. This results in a punchy, detailed sound with rich lows and great high frequency presence, but without any midrange mud.
- I really like the Drive section on the Trace Elliot Transit B - it's one of the best sounding bass overdrives I've heard in a long time. You get not only a Drive knob to adjust the amount of grit from subtle growl to highly overdriven, but also a Blend control so you can easily adjust the amount of clean signal you want to blend in with the overdrive - this gives it great range and flexibility. And again, it's just a really attractive sounding bass overdrive circuit in this reviewer's opinion. Nicely done!
- You get a 5-band EQ section - it's a very capable tone-shaper, with Treble, High-Mid, Mid, Low-Mid and Bass controls. The Mid EQ knob's green LED ring will turn red if you slam the EQ section too hard with excessive boosting and drive it into clipping.
- The EQ can be switched pre-compression or post-compression with a small pushbutton located directly above the Equalization footswitch - a very welcome feature! A red LED illuminates when the switch is in the depressed / post-comp position.
- The Compression circuit has its own footswitch, and the circuit itself is a somewhat unusual two-knob affair, with two bands - one Hi-Band and one Lo-Band. This allows you to adjust the amount of compression for each frequency range separately, which can be really useful when popping and slapping. The compressor knob LEDs will flash off and then back on again as you're playing to show when compression is occurring. The compressor is quite musical and effective, with a fairly quick preset attack time, although excessively high settings on the Lo-Band can get a bit clicky sounding.
- You also get a pushbutton-activated Bass Enhancement circuit. This is located just above the Mute/Tune footswitch, and as with the other pushbuttons, a red LED next to it lights up when it is engaged. When it's active the pedal's subharmonic generator boosts the subharmonics and low frequencies. If you're playing through a system that can reproduce low frequencies effectively this can give you considerable added bottom-end power, but be careful - it can be a bit much for some limited-bandwidth amps to handle without distorting, depending on how you have everything else dialed up.
- An Output Level control is the final knob, and it sets the overall output volume from the Transit B. Think of it as your overall master volume or level control. In conjunction with the Input Gain, it makes it easy to properly gain-stage the pedal.
- When the Mute/Tune footswitch is activated the output signal is muted, all of the knob LEDs and other footswitch LEDs turn off, and the built-in chromatic tuner is turned on. As soon as you play a note that you want to tune, the LEDs for the knobs then become a very large flat / sharp indicator, with the current note being displayed on a small LED Tuner window in between the Drive and EQ footswitches. As you adjust the string to the proper pitch the lit-up LED rings around the knobs move closer to the center, and when the note reaches the correct pitch the red LED around the Mid knob lights up. It's highly visible and easy to use.
- The rear of the Transit B is nearly as well-equipped as the top is.
- You get a wide range of connectivity options, with 1/4" Input and Dry Out jacks, along with 1/4" Line and Instrument level output jacks.
- For running direct, you'll find a pair of XLR D.I. output jacks - one labeled Pre and one Post, giving you both unprocessed and processed options when running direct. These can be used simultaneously if desired - for example, to send one to the PA while sending the other to a live recording setup. A Ground Lift switch is also included to help you deal with any ground hum issues.
- For additional flexibility, a 1/8" Aux In jack and 1/8" Headphone Out jack are also included.
- A 9V DC 1A wall-wart style power supply to power the Transit B is included with the pedal, and connects to a jack on the rear. The adapter comes with four user-swappable AC wall plug types; it is compatible with most AC outlets world-wide.
- Trace Elliot throws in a very nice nylon travel bag (complete with an extra accessory compartment large enough for the power supply and a short cable or two), as well as a Trace Elliot Union Jack sticker, and a CD-ROM with a demo version of Cockos Reaper (a DAW / recording program) and Peavey's ReValver amp modeling software.
- The manual is included, but it's on the CD-ROM, so if you're one of the many people who have a computer without an optical drive, you'll need to go online to download it. You can probably figure everything out okay without it, but it is well-written and contains a lot of useful information - I'd recommend giving it at least a once-over.
- No effects loop is included - if you want to use other pedals along with the Transit B (such as a filter or chorus) you'll need to run them in series, either before or after the Transit B.
The Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal is useful in a wide range of situations - small enough to fit into the accessory compartment on many bass cases (and gig bags, and including a gig bag of its own too), it makes it easy to dial up your own professional-sounding bass tones in all of them.
It works just fine in front of a bass amp as a preamp / EQ and effects unit. If you'd like to add that classic Trace Elliot sound to your existing bass amp, this will do it. As a DI when recording (or for feeding the PA live), it allows you to send the soundperson or recording engineer your sound, instead of relying on them to figure out what you want your bass tone to sound like. It can be used along with a power amp and speaker cabinet, or even a self-powered PA cabinet as the front end of a complete bass amplification system. With the included 1/8" Headphone Out and Aux In jacks, it's a great practice partner too.
The Trace Elliot Transit B is more than just a collection of nice features - everything works great together as a whole; from the instant-classic preset EQ of the Pre-Shape to the great sounding Drive circuit, the effective EQ section and the two-band Compression circuit, it's a powerful all-in-one toolbox for dialing up your sound the way you like it, and getting that same great tone, gig after gig. The Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal is a small and easily transportable solution for consistently good bass tones, wherever you go, and however you want use it. Take one along with you the next time you're in transit to a gig and see for yourself! -HC-
Want to discuss the Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Bass Forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal ($399.99 MSRP, $299.99 "street")
Trace Elliot's product web page
Trace Elliot Transit B manual (PDF file)
You can purchase the Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp Pedal from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.